You have to wonder how much insurance “Star Wars: Episode VII” has knowing that the original trilogy’s actors would be returning and possibly doing their own stunts. There seems to be a new trend lately of actors thinking they can do their own stunts and possibly overestimating what their bodies are capable of doing. Harrison Ford might be one of those, even if it seems unlikely they had him partaking in stunts that would threaten extreme injury. But you have to wonder what the real circumstances were behind his broken ankle on the set and whether some of the safety of the props and ships were double or triple-checked.
We’ll probably never know the truth, and someone like Ford might shrug it off anyway considering he’s done some death-defying rescue operations in real life. It’s clear, though, that he’s set a pattern for older action stars getting back into the fray so Hollywood can cater to older audiences who remember those stars from their action film glory years. Everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Bruce Willis are still making action movies and reportedly doing some of their own stunts, with a little chagrin.
We’ve already heard about some slight injuries those stars experienced in recent movies. And if it hadn’t been to blame for an apparent prop falling on Harrison Ford (or as some tabloids would say “crushing him”), fans would have assumed he was too old to be in an action film that’s going to depend on intense action in order to be taken seriously by the masses.
With a new demand for older action stars and the expectations higher for faster actions and stunts that outdo anything done before, what kind of insurance risks will movies be taking in the future?
The Likely Increase in Insurance Premiums
Let it be known that it’s more than just the male action stars experiencing unnecessary injuries. It’s also female stars doing their own stunts. Over the last several years everyone from Kristen Stewart to Angelina Jolie had injuries on set due to doing most of their own stunt work. This last year, Shailene Woodley was (according to her, happily) injured on set while doing her own stunts in the first upcoming “Divergent” movie.
Age ultimately has nothing to do with it in their regard, though you have to wonder how much insurance has gone up on films due to actors wanting to do their own stunts to prove something. For years, one of the leading insurances in the film industry has been the Fireman’s Fund that was used as far back as the silent film days in the 1910s. They no doubt have insurance out on some of the recent blockbusters, and they may even be part of “Star Wars: Episode VII.”
What kind of insurance premiums must they have now with injuries increasing on films? It’s something we haven’t heard that much about and one that might be made public someday, particularly as more independent companies put up funding for film productions. Will it reach a point where some of the longest running insurance companies in Hollywood tell movie productions they’ll have to force actors to stop taking on so many stunt risks?
Is the Stunt Person a Stigma to Audiences?
One of the most obvious elements in actions films (especially older ones) is seeing where the film cuts to shots when a stunt double is clearly being used. Sometimes it’s so noticeable that it’s almost laughable. Back in the older days of films, it was assumed nobody would really notice. When films use stunt doubles today, it’s easy for astute viewers to call it out and takes away the suspension of disbelief for some people.
Actors are probably very aware of this and now want to contribute toward making their performances as real as possible so they aren’t accused of relying on stunt men and women for everything. In the process, though, their overzealous behavior may be jacking up insurance premiums more every year.
There may have to be some investigations after the tragic story of second camera assistant Sarah Jones was killed on the set of “Midnight Rider” last year. When the filming crew starts doing riskier maneuvers in order to obtain a certain shot, you know there’s a problem going on. The least anybody wants is to hear about the death of an A-list actor on the set of a film based on their insistence not doing an extreme stunt on their own would otherwise prove their performance less than worthy.